I'll Carry You For Miles Through Hellfire and Hailstorm

I thought I knew a good deal about her from our past and recent time spent together, but I didn't know a damn thing.

We started dating my junior year of high school, but it really started in seventh grade. Yes. Seventh grade.

I met her when I was in seventh grade in our ever-shrinking Catholic grammar school. She was the new girl in the class behind me. My class had 20 kids in it and hers probably had a few more. With a school that small anyone new has a strange mystique to them. We had all been together since at least the fourth grade, so all our roles in our respective classrooms became old hat. Someone new, on the other hand, well, that was something exciting.

She never really fit in with anyone. Sure, she garnered attention from the boys in the school, but that was simply because she was, let's say, more developed than the other girls. She made friends there, but there was always an emptiness to it, as the friendship was based almost solely on her breasts.

Eventually she had stumbled upon me, and I liked having her to talk to. So we formed a close knit friendship. Through instant messenger.

The two of us spent the summer in front of our computer screens sending messages back and forth for hours at a time. We learned about each other, but never spoke a word. I was shy and socially awkward, a phase I would not break out of until I was halfway through high school.

We lost touch for almost two and a half years after I started high school. We had talked during that time, but only intermittently. I continued to be educated by the Diocese and when she graduated she opted for the Town's public school system.

We started talking again in my junior year. We had even swapped phone numbers. Yes, that's right, I was going to use a phone to talk to her. I actually heard her voice. This was a milestone.

We actually started spending time together after she demanded I bring her to the Junior Ring Dance that I was dead set on going to, since I did not have a date, and wouldn't accept anyone setting me up with one.

We got closer, and, obviously, began to date.

I thought I knew a good deal about her from our past and recent time spent together, but I didn't know a damn thing.

She had dated guys before me. Guys who dragged her into a pit ripe with sexual abuse, self-mutilation, and physical abuse that I still respect her for enduring.

Were they trivial things at the time? Possibly. I didn't think so and I still don't. Sure, she was a freshman or sophomore in high school when they happened, but when you fall in love with someone and they admit to you that they're hacking themselves open with kitchen cutlery and dulling the pain with generic, store-brand ibuprofen it hits you like a ton of bricks. As I was caught up in the maddening throws of a first love, this made me regret that I left her alone to begin with.

She told me that the times we had talked, those intermittent times as an underclassman in high school, saved her life.

"You saved my life, and I owe that to you," she told me one day. I didn't know what to say to that. I went home and broke down.

Eventually she broke up with me, but we still talk. We're very good friends now, even though the break-up was one of the hardest things I had ever gone through. I inadvertently made it hard on her, but she forgave me, and I forgave her for breaking up with me. I got over her and moved on. In a way, our relationship is back in seventh grade.

I still worry about her. She still admits things to me. That one of the guys she was involved with abused her the worst. That she still cuts herself. She once asked me if I knew anyone who could get her Vicodin or Percocet or Oxycontin. Of course I did, but there was no way in hell I was going to let her get near it.

I still worry about her. And when she tells me things like that or calls me crying I can just do my best to help her through it. Maybe we weren't meant to be together. But no one can say that I do not love her.

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